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Alpha-Lipoic-Acid: Health Benefits, weight loss, and role in the PAGG stack supplement

Updated on May 5, 2011

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA), also known as lipoic acid or thioctic acid, is a sulphur-containing fatty acid, which is needed by the body to produce the energy for to maintain cell functions.

Alpha lipoic acid is part of the metabolic cycle that converts glucose (blood sugar) into energy, and is required by every cell of the human body.  It is also a powerful antioxidant - a substance that helps in neutralize damaging free radicals, which can do extensive harm within the body – free radicals are implicated in health concerns as varied as skin aging to cancer formation.  One unusual difference to other antioxidants though is that lipoic acid is soluble in fat as well as water - unlike others which tend to be either water-soluble (such as Vitamin C) or fat-soluble (Vitamin E).  This unique quality enables it to work synergistically with other antioxidants, and actually enhances the effectiveness of such vitamins.  Alpha lipoic acide also assists in glutathione production, an internally manufactured antioxidant substance.

The body does produce lipoic acid, which is why it’s not normally described as a vitamin (something we need to ingest in our diet) – however as we age our production declines, as with many enzymatic substances, and we need to get it from our diet as well for optimal health, and supplementation may also be useful – it is found in a range of foods, including cruciferous vegetables, rice bran, peas and some meats, but not in large bioavailable quantities.

Clinical data investigating alpha lipoic acid suggests the following health benefits…

  • Prevention of diabetic complications such as diabetic neuropathy – due to stimulation of insulin production, and insulin metabolism
  • Improvement in raised blood pressure, and arterial hardening/atherosclerosis
  • Reduction in tumor development, due to antioxidant effects
  • Improvements in neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease, due to protective actions on the brain chemistry
  • Helps to reduce brain damage following strokes, due to glutathione generation
  • Provides relief and preventative help to migraine sufferers
  • Promotes eye health, by providing protection from age-related lens and retinal degeneration
  • Supports liver function in cellular detoxification, particularly in heavy metal excretion
  • Promotes bone density, so is vital for preventing bone mass loss due to aging and osteoporosis.
  • Maintaining the health of skin, hair and nails.
The most exciting recent research into alpha-lipoic acid however was in the area of weight loss – research with rats found significant outcomes in terms of fat reduction, especially dangerous organ-clogging visceral fat, as well as measurable lowering of blood sugar levels.  This research has lead to further work with this substance, which appears to suggest a potentially valuable role in combating obesity and related health conditions.

Recent studies carried out on obese rats suggest that alpha lipoic acid may help in fat reduction, thus helping in weight loss. The fat loss that was observed in rats was mostly visceral fat. Moreover, there was also moderate reduction in blood sugar. The results were encouraging enough to suggest that alpha lipoic acid may prove to be a valuable nutrient in combating obesity, and for Tim Ferriss to experiment widely with it in research for the Four Hour Body.  These trials to produce the perfect supplement to enhance the ‘slow carb diet’ lead to the development of the PAGG supplement stack, also containing policosanol, garlic extract and green tea flavanols, found to be the ideal combination food supplement for safe and effective weight loss and fat loss.  We can certainly expect to hear more about this overlooked little compound in the future, as the positive results keep on rolling in!

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